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The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a bad name but it’s a fantastic phone

In each of the past 12 years, Apple has, without fail, released a new iPhone. Some have been massive upgrades that show a clear step-change over what the company—and the industry—has produced. Others have spotlighted internal upgrades without changing much on the outside, and some have seemed to just be a fresh coat of paint.

I expected the iPhone 11 Pro Max to mainly be external changes, plus a new camera. Apple has quietly slipped to overhauling the design and feel of its iPhones every three years—having previously released a new design every two years. It felt like an admission, as evidenced in earnings reports, that Apple’s flagship product had lost a little of its luster. The 11 Pro Max, aside from its massive camera bump, looked quite similar to the last two phones Apple has produced. It didn’t seem clear that there would be a reason to buy this very expensive smartphone over other recent iPhones.

And then I spent a week with it.

What’s good about the iPhone 11 Pro Max

Excellent cameras

You can argue that having three cameras on the back of your top-of-the-line smartphone is table stakes in 2019. And just having a lot of cameras doesn’t lead to the phone being able to take good pictures. Apple always has very good cameras in its phones. For this one, chief marketing officer Phil Schiller doubled down on the quality of the camera by declaring that the “Pro” part of the name relates to how good its cameras are.

Three 12-megapixel cameras, including a telephoto lens that allows for 2x zoom, and a new ultra-wide-angle camera, can create photos with a 120-degree field of view. It makes for some pretty dramatic shots:

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